Eat St. Cookbook

NSERC funded research project with Invoke Media.
Research Assistants: Kieran Wallace, Amanda Wangen.

Conducted in partnership with Invoke Media, this project consisted of developing an interactive cookbook for the TV Show Eat St. on the Food Network Canada. Invoke Media is a Vancouver based company that specializes in social media, web and mobile products, solutions and services. The objective of the project was to produce an enhanced interactive cookbook that addressed cross-platform compatibility and reached a range of tablet and smart phone users. The ebook showcases the vendor’s recipes from season 03 of the show, making an addition to the Eat St. platform —which includes the TV Show, a website, and a mobile application— while establishing the precedent and template for future ebook titles. For Emily Carr, this partnership was an opportunity to crystallize and push the work that takes place in our curriculum and it gave our undergraduate students a chance to work in collaboration with the Invoke studio in a collaborative project.

Outcomes.The major outcome of this project was a fully produced ebook with 50 recipe/vendor entries from season 03 of the TV show Eat. St. For our partner, Invoke Media, this project resulted not only in a ready-to-commercialize product but also a production workflow and template for future collections of recipes that can be extended to multiple platforms.

One of our research goals was to identify existing frameworks and map their benefits and shortcomings from design potential to cross-platform compatibility in order to establish the best approach to making this prototype. To accomplish this, we surveyed the ebook platforms landscape as it existed in 2012.

In conjunction with Invoke we conducted a survey to learn about the existing Eat St. audience, their relationship to the show, and their potential interest in cookbooks. Our methodology also included brainstorming sessions with stakeholders to delineate the primary goals and positioning of the ebook within the larger Eat St. platform. We produced several prototypes and included user-testing sessions before the final iteration of the ebook.

Student Involvement & Training. A major impact of this project in the context of Emily Carr is the training of HQP. Two undergraduate students were hired for the entire project and were involved on every aspect of it. They produced the main research on existing ebook platforms and experimented technically with each one; they learnt how to produce a survey to collect data from an audience; they produced several refined prototypes using both Adobe DPS platform and HTML and learnt how to work in a hybrid scenario with both; they also learnt to conduct a user trial which was submitted for REB approval; and finally, they spent the last 3 weeks of the project doing production of the final ebook.

As design students, they not only improved on their technical knowledge and skills but also in their conceptual and methodological capabilities. Ebook design is an emerging and quickly evolving field in communication design; this applied research project provided the students with an immersive learning experience that will provide a foundation for their expertise in the area and the methodological tools to continue to innovate in the area.